Elementary construction update
Fort Calhoun Community Schools (FCCS) Supt. Don Johnson said during a district school board meeting May 11 that masonry work on classroom additions to Fort Calhoun Elementary School has continued at a good pace.
At 7 a.m. Friday, construction crew members were working outside of concrete walls now standing outside the current building. The project will include four new classrooms. Additional construction on a new gym and preschool classrooms will begin following the completion of the new classrooms.
Due to construction, Elementary Principal Drew Wagner said that pick up and drop off of students along Adams Street may change for the upcoming school year.
"There's so much movement still happening," he said. "It's just a lot of safety concerns … We'll have to have some alternative plan, and we'll see what that looks like."
The FCCS school board approved $119,608 for equipment related to the project during the meeting.
"These are things that we had talked about regarding kind of finishing out the whole project," Johnson said, noting vans, security cameras and door locks among the types of equipment that would be purchased.
The board also approved entering into an agreement with Zach Stephens to purchase, at a later date, property which is on the same block as the elementary school and where a house now stands.
"This is an opportunity to completely close the elementary into two blocks," Johnson said. "This could help finish off things and towards working with the city for a parking lot."
Special education, junior high English teachers hired
The FCCS school board approved the hiring of two teachers.
Lacey Sears was hired as an elementary special education teacher.
"Lacey was probably the seventh or eighth candidate we interviewed for this position," Wagner said. "She just brought some background we were looking for."
Sears has worked with students with autism and students with behavioral concerns with Omaha Public Schools since 2016, Wagner said.
"I think she's going to bring a really good background and meet he needs of the position we are evolving," he said.
Kim Pace, who has previously taught with FCCS, was hired as a junior high English teacher.
"I've been in contact with her for the past two years, and my comments to her were if there ever was an opportunity to come back, we'd be here for her," High School Principal Jerry Green said. "She's a fantastic teacher. I think she's just really excited for the opportunity to get back here."
Administrative, classified staff salary increases approved
The board approved a salary increase not to exceed three percent for FCCS staff for the 2020-2021 school year. The board also approved a three percent salary increase for administrative salaries for the 2020-2021 school year.
Secondary, elementary teachers recognized
Fort Calhoun junior high, high school and elementary teachers were recognized by Green and Wagner for the work they've done with online enrichment activities, which began for students after schools were closed in March due to COVID-19.
"My big message for my staff is send a message (to students)," Green said, as the district finished its last week of school last week. "Make it meaningful, tell them a story, tell them some of your struggles, some of your ups and downs...As much of a struggle as it's been for our students, it's been a struggle for teachers as well."
Wagner said said teachers have been working "really, really hard" on providing a good experience for students.
"I try to paint the picture, not just in my board report, but also to parents — what are we doing, what can we do more, what can we do less," he said. "Teachers really love (student Zoom meetings). I try to pop in each classroom...It is really fun to see the kids."
Johnson also recognized FCCS administrators for their work during school closures.
"I would say Mr. Wagner, Mr. Green, Mr. Wemhoff, they've done an outstanding job," he said. "There were weeks we were changing day to day, and they stayed on top of it."